Facebook ,gone bad?

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook seems to be faced with PR nightmare after PR nightmare these days.

By José R. De Souza (Tech Talk)

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Published: Sat 22 May 2010, 7:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:52 AM

The Guardian reported that the ‘How do I delete my Facebook account?’ was one of the most searched-for items on Google. The UK’s Daily Telegraph went a step further and actually provided its readers with a guide on how to delete their accounts.

In the good old days you received emails about Facebook’s alleged CIA parentage, detailing a Big Brother-style operation that would have done Orwell proud. Today’s criticisms are, however, founded on Facebook’s ever changing Privacy Policy, security bugs and allegations of the site not doing enough to protect its younger users. There was even a recent indignant report that Facebook has more influence on kids than their parents do.

So what went wrong with Facebook? Well, with over 400 million users, it’s difficult to say that anything has gone wrong per se. Sure, there are the scaremongering news reports that quote outraged users and privacy experts. But the fact remains that Facebook is hardly seeing the mass exodus you’d think it is.

If anything, Facebook’s popularity is its biggest Achilles’ heel. It’s a bit daunting to think that approximately one in every 14 people on this planet has a Facebook profile. In the UAE alone, the site has close to 1.6 million users. One might argue that trusting that volume of data, a lot of it personal, with one privately owned company is dangerous. Besides giving the company access to valuable information, it also becomes a magnet for digital criminals.

And the messages from Facebook aren’t very reassuring. Privacy policies that change frequently require users to update their privacy settings more often than they should have had to. This automatically makes users feel like they need to be wary of Facebook’s intentions. What Zuckerberg needs to work on is re-building the atmosphere of trust that attracted people to Facebook in the first place.

Facebook on its own constitutes a communication revolution like few others and it would be a shame to see it begin a downward spiral. It’s a powerful example of the internet’s potential to bridge gaps and bring people closer together and Zuckerberg, who has so far done a great job ensuring it hasn’t outlived its usefulness, has got to ensure that it doesn’t become another dotcom has-been.



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